VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) began using some of the products it created for the Navy's Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) observance to train all hands at CPPD headquarters April 5.
A team at CPPD has been working since late last year to create products to train Navy leaders and the fleet on sexual assault awareness, prevention and response. Part of the team's work included providing facilitation guidance for each week of the SAAM training. CPPD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training for leaders is scheduled to begin this summer, with training for the fleet expected to begin soon after that. Additionally, CPPD's master train-the-trainer teams have been qualifying instructors to teach Bystander Intervention (BI) at all Navy "A" schools as part of Sailors' Navy Military Training after-hours curricula. The latter effort underscores the responsibility each Sailor has to step up and step in when situations appear dangerous or threatening. These three training products are part of a larger Navy-wide strategy addressing changes in attitudes and behaviors about sexual assault.
"If honor, courage and commitment are to mean anything to the individual Sailor, it should mean a complete intolerance of the destructive behavior we know as sexual assault," said CPPD Commanding Officer Capt. John Newcomer in an email to the command announcing CPPD's SAAM observance. "It is not the problem of an individual ship, or an isolated location, or a problem with 'the young.' I expect each of you to take the time to better understand what you can do in eliminating this crime."
CPPD headquarters is holding two one-hour training sessions for its staff to cover all four themes of SAAM. The first hour of training covered the themes "Hurts One" and "Affects All." Newcomer, along with CPPD's SAPR point of contact Senior Chief Interior Communications Electrician (SW/AW) Claudia Seawright, conducted the all hands training attended by military and civilian employees.
Newcomer kicked off the training by emphasizing the necessity of talking about sexual assault, even though it's a difficult conversation to have in any setting. "This needs to be a discussion not just among us in this room. It benefits our families, our friends, and all those around us - our shipmates. We need to talk to others about it outside our command and outside work."
Topics covered during the hour were victim blaming, the role of alcohol in assaults, the fact that a larger number of men than women have reported being sexual assault victims, consent, the importance of trust in a command for a victim to report an assault, and collateral misconduct, such as when a victim of sexual assault was engaged in under-age drinking when the assault occurred. Wrapping up the training session, Newcomer said, "We live on Navy Core Values - and yet we have sexual assaults. We're missing something here, and we need to make that connection. I need your help in making that connection.
The second one-hour training session is scheduled for April 19 at CPPD and will cover weeks three and four themes, "Prevention is Everyone's Duty" and "We Will Not Tolerate Sexual Assault."
In addition to SAAM training at CPPD's headquarters, all CPPD learning sites are conducting training at the local level to meet Navy requirements.
The "Hurts One" facilitation guidance points out that every member of the Navy-Marine Corps team is responsible for creating a command climate that is intolerant of sexual harassment and sexual assault. "Through all CPPD's products we strive to provide relevant training to Sailors that will equip them to think critically, act responsibly and lead proactively," said Newcomer. "If we succeed in that, then maybe we can achieve a culture of professionalism, respect and trust that is never tolerant of sexual assault."
Newcomer welcomed the Navy's focus on SAAM throughout April and sees it as an opportunity to raise awareness in advance of more in-depth training. "The first two SAAM themes of 'Hurts One' and 'Affects All' are more than just words. Nearly every single day one of our shipmates is sexually assaulted. Nearly every day, a shipmate endures the trauma of violation - usually committed by another service member and often by someone who outranks the victim," he said. "While we may think how tragic that is for the victim, the reality is that the victim and his or her entire command can be deeply affected by an assault on that one shipmate."
The Department of Defense's Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault reported that sexual assault is incompatible with Navy core values and is corrosive to morale and to operational and combat readiness. This crime takes an immeasurable toll on the victim and diminishes DoD's overall capability by undermining core values, degrading mission readiness, subverting strategic goodwill, and raising financial costs, the report said.
"If we're going to stop sexual assault, we have to bring this issue out of the dark and into the open," said Seawright. "When we talk about victims, these aren't just numbers on a report. Each one is an individual whose life was changed forever by a senseless crime."
"It doesn't matter if you've never been a victim. It doesn't matter if you think you don't know any victims," said Newcomer. "What does matter is to realize this is happening and to understand how huge this problem is. It is my problem and it is your problem, and each of us needs to be the solution."
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working to aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SAAM.
For more information about the Center for Personal and Professional Development, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cppd/.
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